Guide to tying up to docks, piers and jetties


[Editor’s introduction]  The first thing you will notice when tying up to docks, piers and jetties in the marinas and guest harbors in Finland is that pretty much everyone moors the boat with the bow towards the shore. One of the reasons for this could be that this is often the only option that works, especially when you use small jetties which follow the shore and are often quite shallow close to the jetty. The same practice has then been widely adopted also in marinas and harbors. If you want to tie up with the stern to the dock, make sure you check the depth.

The other thing to be aware of in Finland is the lack of tradition of mooring boats in several rows. This means that in Finland, a marina is “full” when the side of the jetty is full. If you want to tie up behind some other boat, then do hail the boat and at least state your intention. If the reception is not very warm, do understand that this is mainly due to the lack of experience of mooring in multiple rows rather than a general hostility towards foreign boaters. This is also one of the reasons why tying up alongside is a no-no in most Finnish marinas, in Finland you signal that you have reserved the dock for yourself as people do not expect to tie up on your outside.

Stern Buoy


Probably the most common mooring in Swedish and Finnish guest harbors. Buoys most commonly have a galvanized pole with a loop on the top passing right through them, connected to the anchor chain. Usually easy enough to pick up if there’s not a strong crosswind. The distance between buoy and quay varies so much that whilst in some places you may need to tie two lines together to make it long enough, in others the buoy will be alongside you. Most folk carry a long stainless steel hook – with or without a captive bar – to hook onto the buoy. I use a large carabiner.

[Editor’s note] In many marinas there are fewer buoys than there are berths and therefore you often end up sharing a buoy with one or sometimes even multiple boats.  A buoy hook is one of the most valuable purchases you can do when coming to Finland. In empty harbors, other methods might work, but if you need to pick up a buoy that is already used by an other boat, the top of the buoy will be very close to the water surface and hard to reach with anything else than a proper buoy hook.

Also note proper placement of stern lines in the image above when you share a buoy with an other boat. And if it looks like three or more boats will need to use the same buoy, the boats that are in first should place themselves “fender to fender” to allow the later boats to tie up on the outside.



Very common in the shallow, sandy southern Baltic. Much less so further north. Can be tricky to get a line on both piles when flying solo. It’s probably best just to concentrate on getting one line on initially. Preferably on the up wind pile. Tricky in a crosswind, when it’s probably best to aim at a slot next to a boat that’s already moored, preferably with someone on board. Then just go alongside it. When piles are close together you may need to keep fenders on deck until you are in. In older marinas piles are often too close together for modern, beamy boats, which is handy if you’ve got a wee boat. There’s always spaces even when it’s busy.

Stern Anchor


A stern anchor is a must in the Baltic for mooring to all rocks and some guest harbours. British anchoring tackle allows for flexing and resists snatching either by a catenary curve in a heavy chain or by using stretchy anchor warp. Your Scandian stern anchor is typically held on by a bit of completely unstretchy luggage strap. That’s because your bow is only a foot away from the shore, so stretching is not to be encouraged. Make sure, therefore, that you’re not on a lee shore when mooring like this.

[Editor’s note] In marinas with other types of mooring solutions (such as buoys or piles) you should only use an anchor when all other options have been depleted. For instance using an anchor to tie up between boats using boys is not a good practice, instead you should use one of the buoys (even if it already has one or two other boats tied to it).



Can be a very secure type of mooring in which you are unlikely to be rammed by other boats. But it’s often quite a pain reaching the wee loops on the galvanised steel ‘booms’ you lie between. In common with all Scandinavian moorings, there’s only ever fiddly little loops, never cleats.

[Editor’s note] Booms are mostly intended for small powerboats, only on rare occasions are there booms for bigger boats, check the width of the gap before you enter!

Bows to a Rubber Band


This is the most stupid type of mooring ever devised by man. I only came across it once and didn’t have to use it. Probably best to avoid it like the plague unless a) your bow is absolutely straight and vertical, b) it’s perfectly, absolutely calm and c) you don’t much like your boat and don’t care what happens to it.

[Editor’s note] In Finland, this type of system is only found in the Nagu marina. Despite Martin’s dislike of the solution, it works very well in Nagu, we have had our sailing boat moored to one of these for a full season and never had a problem. The nice thing is that most people who have not used this system will try to avoid them which means that the slots with the rubber bands fill up last in Nagu (hint).


This article also appears in Martin Edge’s book “165 Rocks: and other stuff to tie your boat to in eastern Sweden and Finland“, available from Amazon here.